Christmas cookies to warm your holiday!

December is the most wonderful time of the year.

The decorations. The parties. And the baked goods.

This year, celebrate the holiday season with ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness from the Junior League of Omaha’s A Century of Serving centennial celebration cookbook, available in Fall 2018. Caramel goodness, you read that right.

The cookies, which are delectable on their own but pair well with coffee, cocktails and cocoa, are the League’s December Recipe of the Month. The “caramel goodness” alone is sure to impress your guests.

After you make the ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness, share a photo on social media using #JLOCookbook. Members who do will be entered into a drawing for a gift card.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 caramel candies, halved
  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar

Instructions 

 

  • Beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla with a heavy-duty stand-up mixer on medium speed until mixture is smooth.
  • Process flour, ginger, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until ginger is very finely chopped and mixture is well-blended, approximately 1-2 minutes. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended after each addition.  Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill 6-24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into approximately 30 (1 ½nch) balls.  Flatten each ball in your palm, and place 1 caramel half in center.  Wrap dough around caramel, and reshape into a ball by rolling in hand, completely covering the caramel.  Place balls approximately 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle each cookie lightly with Demerara sugar.
  • Bake in preheated oven until flattened and lightly browned on the bottom, approximately 10-12 minutest, switching pans halfway through baking (i.e. top cookie sheet is switched with the bottom cooking sheet). Cool on pans for 8 minutes.
  • Serve warm either straight out of oven or reheated in the microwave.

 

The ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness were just one of the cookies on the table at the Cookbook Committee’s November meeting, which doubled as a holiday social for the members. Members also made ooey gooey butter cake cookies, dark chocolate and sea salt sables, rum buttercrunch toffee and other recipes exclusive to the cookbook.

Need some more inspiration for your upcoming parties?

Happy holidays! And happy hosting.

Cornhole and Cornhuskers

Big Red Block Party is just around the corner on Saturday, November 11th, are you ready for it?  This year features a fun spin on tailgating with none other than a “Tailgating Olympics.”  So whether or not you call it Cornhole, Corn Toss or Bags, let’s prepare you with a few game rules, after all… there is a Stock the Bar Tailgate prize package on the line!

Let’s start out with a more common game that most have played- Bags.  Let’s review some of the rules and see if you have been playing correctly all of these years!

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Bags

How to Score During the Game:

Once all bags have been thrown, a bag remaining on the board is worth 1 point and a bag that went in the hole is worth 3 points. Add up how many points you earned and compare them to your opponent’s points. Equal points cancel each other out so that only one team can score per round. 

The match shall be played until the first team of contestants reaches 21 points at the completion of an inning.

Ladder Golf

Ladder Golf

Another game that will be a part of “Tailgate Olympics” this year is Ladder Golf.  In case you haven’t played this entertaining game before, let’s break it down so you will be more than ready by November 11th!

Space the game ladders about 15 feet apart and start tossing your bolas. Each player tosses all 3 bolas, and then the next player tosses all 3 bolas. Landing your bola on the top rung is worth 3 points; middle is 2 and bottom rung is 1 point. The first one to 21 without going over is the winner!

Giant Jenga

Giant Jenga

Last but not least, let’s not forget to mention a crowd favorite- Giant Jenga!

Any number of players can join in a game of Giant Jenga. First, the tower has to be built. Then each player takes a turn removing a block from any level of the tower- except the top. From there the rules are pretty straight-forward- Don’t knock over the tower!

Now you have a leg up on the competition at this year’s Big Red Block Party.  These are just a few of the MANY games that will be there. And don’t forget the best part of any great tailgate game- They are often played with a drink in hand!

Grab your friends and start practicing, because this is an event you won’t want to miss!

 

Recipe of the Month: Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip

What is your go-to for game day? If your spread includes jarred salsa and a tub of pre-made dip, served with a side frozen wings and a store-bought pizza, know that it does not have to be that way. You can have a tasty, homemade dish in just minutes.

With a few hearty pantry staples and a handful of fresh flavors, Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip can transform you from second-string to the Most Valuable Player. A real crowd-pleaser, Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip is one of the recipes in the Junior League of Omaha’s A Century of Serving cookbook, available in Fall 2018.

Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip    

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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 2/3 cup bottled picante sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1 can black beans (drained and washed)
  • 1/4 cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco-if desired

Instructions

  • Heat oil in skillet.  Add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender.
  • Add tomato, picante sauce, chili powder, cumin, and black beans to skillet.  Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
  • Partially mash mixture with a potato masher.  Add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice.  Stir until cheese melts.
  • Serve warm with tortilla chips.

After you make Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip, share a photo on social media using #JLOCookbook.

Boots & Belles Roundup

Boots & Belles (formerly Barn Bash), a fundraiser for the Junior League of Omaha’s projects and initiatives, took place on Friday, August 4, 2017, at the home of Lexie and Shane Frahm in Gretna, Nebraska.

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The theme of the evening was a rustic BBQ. White and blue gingham tablecloths popped against the rich, warm tones of the Frahm family’s barn. Vintage outdoor string lights illuminated the venue in which fresh wildflowers adorned each table.

IMG_0795_FrahmFamilyBarn{Inside the Frahm family’s barn}

2017-08-04-BootsBelles Table Arrangement 1{Mason jars filled with colorful wildflowers decorated each table.}

Hog Wild Pit BBQ catered the meal of pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and macaroni and cheese. The Junior League of Omaha Cookbook Committee sponsored a dessert tasting featuring ten decadent and sugary treats, including Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Cookies, Rum Buttercrunch Toffee and Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Sables.

IMG_0730_DessertTable{The Junior League of Omaha Cookbook dessert tasting was a big hit!}

“This year’s event was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect and it was great to see so many JLO members and guests show their support for the first fundraiser of the year. The planning committee can’t thank the Frahms enough for hosting us at their beautiful property!”

The event drew 70 attendees who enjoyed BINGO, raffle prizes, a specialty cocktail of vodka lemonade and s’mores by the fire.

2017-08-04-BootsBelles Raffle 3{Raffle prizes were abundant and included tickets to the Big Red Block Party, an Oktoberfest-themed package (complete with German beer, pretzels and a gift certificate to Gerda’s Bakery), passes to Ditmar’s Orchard and so much more! }

IMG_0725_Guests{Guests relaxed indoors and out, many clad in denim and boots!}

IMG_0741_BingoGuests{BINGO aficionados enjoyed several rounds of the game while also giving the dessert selection a taste.}

IMG_0749_Dinner{Host Lexie Frahm and guests dined al fresco on Hog Wild Pit BBQ and refreshing summer cocktails.}

Host Lexie Frahm said, “Thanks to all who attended and planned the Boots and Belle’s event! We couldn’t have asked for better weather for an August evening. Shane and I look forward to hosting this event each League year!”

 

Our Favorite Places to bRUNch in Omaha

 

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If you’re looking for a good brunch after a long run (or maybe a long snooze?), members of the 2017 bRUNch5k Committee have you covered with their top recommendations of places to brunch in Omaha. Here are our favorites:

Pig & Finch is a great, central location in Omaha at One Pacific Place. You can’t beat their $5.00 Bloody Mary’s.” –Colby, bRUNch5k co-vice chair

“For a traditional breakfast, I like The Diner in the Old Market. The breakfast isn’t fancy, but the food is good and the staff is hilarious and makes your morning better!”– Lisa, bRUNch5k co-chair

Dario’s is a favorite for all meals, but their brunch stands out. You can not go wrong with anything on their menu—I highly recommend the Eggs Florentine.”– Britt, communications coordinator – bRUNch5k

“We go to Krug Park in Benson and order brunch takeout from Lot 2 next door to avoid the wait for a table. An added bonus is drinking a Krug Bloody Mary while we wait—there are over 10 kinds to chose from.” – Tanin, bRUNch5k treasurer

Mantra is my favorite brunch restaurant- great location and modern atmosphere.”           – Catherine, Development & Donor Relations development specialist – bRUNch5k

“The lemon ricotta pancakes at Railcar are amazing! Railcar also has a unique drinks menu if you’re looking for something a little different than your typical brunch beverages.”         –Emily, bRUNch5k co-chair

“I love Dixie Quicks in Council Bluffs for their fun atmosphere!” –Heidi, bRUNch5k prize & raffle coordinator

“The patio at Pitch West is a great place to brunch on the weekends. The breakfast meals are delicious and they offer ½ price bottles of wine on Sunday.” –Haley, bRUNch5k runner recruitment

Duggar’s Café in Dundee offers non-greasy diner food, has great lunch options and very good desserts.” –Alex, bRUNch5k prize & raffle coordinator

Of course, the unanimous committee favorite goes to Crave Restaurant in Midtown Crossing, who not only offers a delicious, huge Sunday brunch menu, but is hosting the brunch following this year’s bRUNch5k.

Join us on April 29, 2017 for brunch, mimosas, and raffles at Crave after crossing the finish line of the 5k. Not a runner? Brunch-only tickets are available as well.

 

Color, Pattern, Fun and Fashion-Forward Designs all Spotlighted at Kids Rule Fashion Show

Kids will take over the Omaha Design Center for the first-ever Kids Rule Fashion Show in Omaha this weekend on February 17 and 18, which benefits Junior League of Omaha. Kids will have the chance to strut the runway in fashion-forward designs by local designers, including Aubrey Sookram of Markoos Modern Designs, Kids Rule (by Omaha Fashion Week staff) and Wes and Willy by Les Kimmel and Bill Mullen. As an added bonus, all kids in the show get to take home what they wore on the runway!

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Fashion-show goers are in for a treat! Each designer brings something different to the show, their own flair, if you will. Wes and Willy is known for designing fashionable, good-looking boys clothing that has a classic lived-in feel. In an Omaha World-Herald article, Kids Rule designs were described as fun, comfortable and fashion-forward, while Aubrey says her inspiration comes from color and pattern.

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“I like to take a color, a specific pattern, or a really fabulous fabric and build a collection around that. Due to the large variance in sizes needed in this show, I kept this collection just a bit more neutral, as I needed to design for both young and older children,” Aubrey said.

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Aubrey says her love of pattern and color is why she focuses on kid’s designs, as her ability to combine the two may not be appropriate or embraced by an older crowd like it is with kids.

Another bonus for the child models: confidence-building opportunities.

“There is nothing quite like stepping out on a big stage in front of a large crowd,” said Aubrey. “This will be a wonderful confidence builder for all of these children. Every child is different. Some thrive playing sports or in academics, and some find their place on the stage.”

Want to be part of the fun and be runway-side at this event? Buy tickets now and support Junior League of Omaha for this new, exciting event.

Kids Rule Fashion Show

What: a new kids fashion show by Omaha Fashion Week and Junior League of Omaha

When: Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. and Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Where: Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St.

Tickets: start at $40; a portion of the event’s profits go to Junior League of Omaha. 

 

Best Places to Run in Omaha

Spring is around the corner, which means sunshine and warmer weather is coming. It’s time to dust off those running shoes and hit the trails, but choosing where to run can be a tough choice. Luckily, bRUNch5k Co-Chair Emily Anderson is an avid runner who’s willing to share her favorite spots around town to log some miles.

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Lake Zorinsky

 Although we’re not the Land of 10,000 lakes, Omaha is lucky that it has a handful of great options to run around. Lake Zorinsky is my favorite for several reasons: 

  • It’s comprised of two lakes separated by a reservoir, the smaller side slightly over three miles and the other side more than four miles (according to my Nike Plus). If I want to turn the four into a five or six-mile run, I’ve figured out some out and backs to make that side even longer.
  • You can combine both sides of the lake for a longer workout. 
  • Not completely flat, but not a hilly route by any means, the lake is always populated and the scenery is incredible. 
  • Deer, turkeys and some of the most breathtaking views that make me feel like I’m not in the middle of West Omaha.

Track Workouts:

 Running at a track is one of my go-tos when it comes to short, or long runs. When I was training for my first marathon I did a majority of my weekday runs at various tracks in Omaha. 

  • I like that most tracks in town have cameras for safety.
  • Tracks are well lit in the evenings and it’s rare that I’m the only person running. 
  • NO HILLS and a built in place to store and keep an eye on your water/Gatorade and anything else you may bring with you.
  • “Cons” for a track workout? It’s the least scenic and least interesting route… you’re running in circles around an AstroTurf or grass rectangle.

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Road Routes/Trails:

 I’m most likely to run a three to five-mile road route over my lunch hour. I try to push myself because I know I have limited time… and find routes that are challenging by adding hills so I can work on my inclines, finding routes that I’ve never tried (which works on my memory), and adding in anaerobic bursts to work on speed.  If I’m running on a trail (I love the West Papio Trail and the Big Papio Trail), it’s after work or during the day on the weekend.  It’s rare that I go on a  trail run with a distance in mind… I like that I can do an out and back… so I just turn around when my body (or mind) tells me that I’m halfway done whether that’s one mile or eight miles in. I do find it challenging (for the longer) distances to stay as hydrated as I would on the aforementioned track workout.

 No matter the route, the distance or the location, I try to go with some sort of a plan in mind. I like that it’s just me and my music, that I’m competing against my last best time, and that running is completely free. Finally, I also let someone know where I’m running and how long I plan to run. 

What are you favorite places to run in Omaha?   What do you run for?

The 2nd annual bRUNch5k will be held on April 29, 2017, at Midtown Crossing. Sign up online to register for the run/walk and brunch! 

Not a runner? Brunch-only tickets are available too!

Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are in full swing which means it’s time to exchange presents with the ones you love the most. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for someone in your life, consider finding a gift that not only will bring a smile to your loved one but will give back to noteworthy causes as well.

For the animal lover: AnimalGift.org

If you have a friend who just loves animals big and small, then this is the perfect gift for her! Help animals in need this holiday season by making a donation in their name to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Gifts for Animals program. Sending support in your friend’s name will help to protect endangered animals and provide emergency relief to animals in need such as dogs, cats, elephants and more.

For the beauty lover: Lush Charity Pot

This lotion does a lot of good not only for your skin but the environment as well. Made of a cocoa butter base, this lotion contains ingredients from the SLush Fund projects. With the purchase of every Charity Pot, 100% of the price (minus the taxes) are donated to small, grassroots organizations that help in the areas of animal welfare and environmental conservation.

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For the Baby: Cuddle and Kind

Every baby needs a cuddly friend! The duo behind these hand-knit dolls created them because they’re a family of five that are on a mission to feed children in need. For every doll sold, 10 meals are provided to children in North America and around the world. Plus, each doll is handmade by women artisans in Peru, making each doll unique and providing the female artisans with a sustainable, fair trade income.

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For the man in your life: Conscious Step Socks

Give the gift of style to the favorite guy in your life with a pair of socks. Each pair is designed to match a specific cause that helps an issue of global concern. Hunger, literacy and HIV are among some of the nonprofit organizations that benefit from each purchase.

For your bestie: Alex and Ani Charity by Design Bracelet

Show your bestie love and support by gifting her one of these stylish bracelets. Each of the Charity by Design bracelets by Alex and Ani support a variety of causes from Best Buddies International to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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For the #girlboss: Tory Burch Foundation Seed Box

Tory Burch is best known for her timeless accessories including shoes and purses. This holiday season, she takes it a step further and is showcasing the talents of fellow female entrepreneurs with this holiday box. Featuring a curated selection of products from seven women entrepreneurs, including a necklace and a clutch, the proceeds from this box benefit female business leaders with financial support and mentorship.

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And if you’re looking for a easy way to give back this holiday season while you’re out and about, consider downloading the TAGG app and choosing to support the Junior League of Omaha! By eating at your favorite restaurants and shopping at participating businesses, you’re helping to support the local community.

All That Glitters Is the (Newly Redesigned) Column

Allison Hardy  the Column co-editor

Ladies, I’m conducting a poll. Who here keeps glitter around in their homes? While I haven’t touched the stuff since elementary school, I recently learned that glitter is a staple at the homes of League members Sara Huse, Katie Triplett and Jennifer Peters. I also learned that it’s quite difficult to photograph.

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To introduce some major (read: incredible) changes we’ve made to to the League’s magazine, we, the editorial staff of the Column, thought it would be fun to do a fall photo shoot with our incredibly talented Social Media Coordinator, Jillian Humphries. For the finale, we thought we’d throw some red glitter up in the air and would get some great shots of it sparkling in the September sunshine. Long story short: what we got, in addition to these shots, was glitter everywhere – eyes, hair and covering our bodies. I’m quite sure my pillow is still sparkling.

When you try something new, you take risks with the hope that they are outweighed by the reward. This year’s Communications Committee, headed by our fearless, visionary leaders Communication Committee Chair Katie Triplett and Vice Chair Jennifer Peters, and armed with our ambitious Graphic Designer Sara Huse, decided to take the plunge to provide you, our readers of the Column, with a fresh new look. To that end, we’ve moved the Column to a full color, 20-page, magazine-like publication to keep you updated with what’s happening in the League. We’re putting a new spin on stories to make them more engaging and are including more attention-grabbing photos and infographics.

While it’s not entirely clear if our glitter photoshoot passed the risk-reward test (but hey, we had fun), we think you’ll agree that the redesign of the Column has. We invite you to check out our new style and weigh in with your comments. The Fall edition of the Column will be hitting mailboxes in early December.

For now, check out some of the fun outtakes from our sparkling photo shoot.

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What To Wear To Big Red Block Party 2016

Back-packs, bell sleeves and booties! Fall fashions are upon us, and we’re taking a look at some of the fun ways you can wear the latest trends for this year’s “blackout” themed Big Red Block Party on November 5th!

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Now that you’ve online shopped your way to a killer new outfit (or two), you need a place to wear it! Buy your ticket for Big Red Block Party today!